One of the first places I visited in Nashville was a Christian bookstore. I wasn’t going to write about this until I sat down to write a piece for the blog, I was going to write about Joe and Sally or about Music Row, but I got to thinking about the bookstore.
I can’t tell you much about the bookstore, other than the fact that it was one of the first places I visited; “back in the day” as they say, when I arrived in a new place one of the first things I did was to find a Christian bookstore. I recall visiting people in Tucson back in the day and visiting a bookstore, and I remember that after arriving in San Francisco (also back in the day) with virtually no money, that after obtaining money that I went to the Christian bookstore and bought books. In San Francisco this was a marvel to my roommate because I had been without money for so long that he naturally assumed I’d spend it on things other than books.
Even without money, slowly walking through a Christian bookstore was food to my soul, picking up and browsing through a book here and there, planning my next book purchase. Some people talk about cars or boats or houses they’ve bought – I talk about books. Erasmus reportedly said, “When I have money I buy books, if there is anything left over I buy food.” I wish Erasmus lived next door to me.
Sad to say it is hard for me to be in a Christian bookstore today – the hype, the self-centeredness of the books, the unashamed marketing and retailing, the personality cults of authors and speakers, and the Biblically- shallow content of much of the material. And then there is all the “Jesus junk” – trinkets of every description…it’s a wonder anyone takes us seriously. What was once food to my soul now gives my soul indigestion, what was once nutritious is now toxic.
There is still great Christian writing to be read, both classic and contemporary – the problem is that, whereas back in the day it could be found in local Christian bookstores, today most of it must be purchased online.